Collection of essays on investing, healthcare, and life from the unique perspective of Dr. Joon Yun, a renown investor and thinker. Dr. Yun is President of Palo Alto Investors, LLC, a hedge fund founded in 1989 with over $1 billion in assets under management. Dr. Yun has been a healthcare specialist at the firm for 15 years and has been an early investor in companies that develop drugs and devices for unmet medical needs. Dr. Yun is board certified in Radiology and served on the clinical staff at Stanford Hospital from 2000-2006. He received his B.A. from Harvard College in 1990 and his M.D. from Duke Medical School in 1994. He has served on corporate and nonprofit boards and is a founder of Palo Alto Institute, a nonprofit foundation and think tank. Dr. Yun has published numerous patents as well as medical and business articles. His writing covers several topics, including evolution, investing, and the future of healthcare. Dr. Yun is a contributor to Forbes and Evolution: This View of Life.
In 1439, German blacksmith Johannes Gutenberg introduced the movable type to Europe that enabled mass communication at heretofore unprecedented scale, helping usher in the Early Modern Age. Among the early beneficiaries of the novel printing press was a young student, Nicolaus Copernicus, who amassed a sizable library of astronomy books in Kraków during the late 15th century. His synthesis of the newly liberated information resulted in the publication of Dē revolutionibus orbium coelestium, which transformed a convoluted, geocentric model of planetary motion into the elegant heliocentric model that we have today. Indeed, the conceptual reframing of extant, seemingly abstruse data to explain the revolution of celestial bodies was so radical that the word revolution became synonymous with the now-familiar notion of overthrowing the established system. Dominoes have been falling ever since: the French, American, and Industrial Revolutions, etc.
We are now a quarter century since the Internet was introduced to the world. As profound as the information revolution precipitated by the printing press was, it pales in comparison to the Internet’s knowledge liberation.
Who, then, will be the Copernicus of our time?
Speech delivered at the inaugural annual meeting of the National Academy of Medicine exhorting the members of the Academy to take the moonshot to re-imagine healthcare through the lens of restoring our innate homeostatic capacity to solve aging and usher in the era of Health 3.0.
NASEM Health and Medicine Division – 10/19/2015
Joon Yun, M.D., Managing Partner and President, Palo Alto Investors, LLC; and Benefactor, Palo Alto Longevity Prize
Is Heart Rate Variability the best biomarker of the time to track our longevity? In this episode, we look at why HRV may be the best way to track how well you are aging and the bets being placed on it in Silicon Valley to drive innovation in anti-aging and longevity research.
Previously we’ve looked at using HRV for training and recovery, stress management, and tracking hormesis. If you are new to biohacking, HRV is an easy economical way to start tracking. All one needs is a heart rate strap and phone app.
Do we have enough talent in healthcare? Learn how the 21st century is poised to become “The Healthcare Century,” and why Humans need apply.
About Joon Yun
Dr. Joon Yun is managing partner and president of Palo Alto Investors, LLC, an investment management firm founded in 1989 with $1 billion in assets invested in healthcare. Board certified in Radiology, Joon served on the clinical faculty at Stanford from 2000-2006. He received his B.A. from Harvard, M.D. from Duke Medical School, and clinical training at Stanford. Joon has served on several corporate and non-profit boards and has published dozens of patents, scientific articles, and business essays. He is a contributor to Forbes and is the health editor for Evolution magazine. Joon recently agreed to donate a $1million Palo Alto Prize to reverse the aging process.
A World Bank report estimated that the 2014 GDP toll, directly and indirectly, attributable to the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa will be between $2.2 billion and $7.4 billion. The viral outbreak has infected 14,000 people.
If so, what is the implied economic benefit—in terms of averted GDP loss—of health innovations that rid the world of the bubonic plague, which once killed an estimated one-third of the global population in 5 years, and smallpox, which killed an estimated 300 million people last century? What is the implied economic benefit of health innovations that now allow those infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—which has killed 32 million people globally—to be able to live as long as uninfected individuals?
Earlier in 2014, a media furor arose over another virus, hepatitis C. As companies usher in the first curative drugs for this deadly viral pandemic that has already infected 130 million people globally, politicians are tripping over themselves in a rush to crucify the pharmaceutical industry on drug pricing.
While a debate rages about the cost of these drugs, it is also important to contemplate and calculate the implied GDP benefit—the health dividend, if you will—accrued by economies made healthier by these innovations. The public is generally unaware that they are collecting this health dividend because the human mind tends to overlook averted losses despite its significant economic value.
Fear is contagious. Natural selection has wired us to sense fear in our surroundings and make it our own. Zebras might not get ulcers from chronic stress but those that fail to activate their acute stress response when others around them are stressed are more likely to miss cues of threat and be consumed by a predator. Absorbing secondhand stress from others is a survival instinct—an adaptation shaped by prehistoric environments to promote evolutionary fitness.
However, our culture is evolving faster than our ability to biologically evolve. Too often, we helplessly rubberneck trainwreck events—often sensationalized by media for attracting attention and profit—despite their remote connection to our personal survival. For example, fear of the Ebola virus in recent weeks has become more viral than the virus itself. In the modern technology age where fear memes can spread around the globe near-instantly, our tendency to absorb secondhand stress from our ubiquitous, 24/7 media culture to activate our own stress response can produce maladaptive responses that are out of proportion to the actual threat.
You are probably aware of the concept of second-hand smoke, which increases the risk of disease and death. You should probably be aware of another deadly scourge: second-hand stress.
Natural selection has wired us to sense the stress of others and make it our own. If you are a gazelle and you don’t freak out when others around you do, then you might be the one about to be consumed by a predator you haven’t seen yet. Animals detect the stress of others through various sensory signals such as alarm calls, olfactory cues, or visual behaviors. Plants detect distress signals of others in the form of ethylene gas that activates their own stress response (fittingly, second-hand smoke contains ethylene). The ability to detect second-hand stress is a survival instinct that can promote evolutionary fitness.